The Next Target in the War on Voting: Hoffa and the Unions

Last week, Ari Berman chronicled what he termed a war on voting.

All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.

Taken together, such measures could significantly dampen the Democratic turnout next year – perhaps enough to shift the outcome in favor of the GOP.

The war got a lot more explicit when a right winger argued that poor people shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

Fox and the right wing’s bloggers just added another front to the attack. On Labor Day, they doctored a Jimmy Hoffa Jr. speech to suggest his call for union members to vote amounted to a call for violence against the Tea Party.

Right-wing bloggers misled by dishonest Fox News video editing are attacking Teamsters President James Hoffa, Jr. for supposedly urging violence against Tea Party activists during a Labor Day speech. Conservatives are also attacking President Obama, who appeared at the event, for “sanctioning violence against fellow Americans” by failing to denounce Hoffa. But fuller context included in other Fox segments makes clear that Hoffa wasn’t calling for violence but was actually urging the crowd to vote out Republican members of Congress.

During the segment that the bloggers have latched onto, Fox edited out the bolded portion of Hoffa’s comments:

HOFFA: Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these son of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!

In an initial report on Hoffa’s speech at 1 p.m. on Fox News, Ed Henry reported that Hoffa said that “we’ll remember in November who’s with the working people” and “said of the Tea Party and of Republicans, ‘let’s take these sons of bitches out.'”

Henry made clear during that segment that Hoffa’s comments were references to voting out Republican members of Congress, not to violence. And roughly 20 minutes later, he explained on Twitter that the “full quote” of the “take these son of a bitches out” comment is “Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back & keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of bitches out”:

Ed Henry tweet

I guess these folks have decided to use their weekend–which they have courtesy of unions–to spend inventing another attack on an organization serving working people. I’m just holding my breath for the line of Democrats who will–as they did with ACORN–condemn that organization based on a doctored video.

16 replies
  1. KWillow says:

    One of the worst things to happen to the US was the creation of Fox “news” propaganda. It is the exact opposite what our Founders had in mind when they were talking about the importance of a Free Press.

    One need only look at the faces of the people who Own & manage Fox to see undiluted evil, and open malice. Under the label of “free speech” they are destroying us.

  2. orionATL says:

    not that it matters in this nation any more,


    violence can be politically very productive (see brooks’ brothers riot)


    advocating violence is protected speech.

    if i were hoffa, my”apology” would consist of repeating, slowly and clearly, so there could be no misunderstanding, “let’s take the bastards out” and then explaining how and why to do it.

    this business of faux news getting to set the agenda on political propriety as a shield for republican impropriety and unpatriotism, will stop only when they are repeatedly, roughly challenged and told they are shamming and can go f$$k themselves.

    in short, told they have become irrelevant.

  3. orionATL says:

    not to mention that this whole matter is as trivial, and as trivial in the same sunday school way, as the matter of whether obama intended to slight the repugnants or not in setting his speech agenda.

    if some folks want to focus on their shoes, then let them focus on their shoes.

    there are 14 million variously unemployed in this country.

    there is an ignorant obsession in this countrt with deficits and no more taxes.

    if the faux news folks want to focus on triviality, call them on their trivial focus.

  4. prostratedragon says:

    @KWillow: I could not agree more about Ff–. (Can hardly say it) However if anyone rivals them in the harm they have done to this country it would be the large number of the political class, including hordes of so-called liberals, who have refused to see manifest evil for what it is and know that they cannot deal with it, if travelling ’round the back way of the universe is what results.

    Just found this piece about a sorry fool who not only failed that test, but doesn’t even seem to know that you don’t make friends with your tools, if that’s what you think they are. (“he was an outsider and he had balls,” hmph.)

  5. Cregan says:

    I am curious, what “sons a bitches” do you think Hoffa was referring to?

    FDL posters? People who work at Planned Parenthood? Just who are these “sons a bitches.”

    Now, it is possible he meant “take out to dinner.” Or “take out to a movie.”

    As we all know, any kind of calls for civil speech were really only devices to get those you disagree with to shut up.

    Why Fox or anyone else wastes time on this is beyond me. It is stupid waste of energy to point out how one side never seems to adhere to calls for civility. They never intended it that way in the first place.

    They should quit being suckers and drop it. There are other more important issues to address.

  6. Cregan says:

    Also, HOffa can say what he wants, but people are not so stupid as to not know the image he intended.

    Yes, he may have been referring to voting, but he intended to convey a certain image.

    Similarly Palin saying “target these districts” or something to that effect. She meant, “vote them out.” But, I didn’t see too many on the other side taking it that way.

    IN a certain way, Hoffa is right; we might be heading for that ultimate result. I don’t see a whole lot to indicate the scene is not going to continue rolling down hill until there is some armed conflict. Sad thing to say, but the recriminations and the “you did this to me” and “you did that to me,” is snow balling.

    It takes two to tango, and each is dancing faster and faster.

  7. Cregan says:

    Lastly, I noticed that in your post didn’t include Hoffa’s many references to “war.”

    When you take it all together, sure Hoffa was talking about voting, but the image he chose to portray the voting was “war” and “taking them out,” etc.

    Personally, I hope Obama decides to take the advice of so many and fight, fight, fight the GOP so he can try that tack, get it out of his system, and we can then get down to solving the situation.

  8. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: Hey, I’m not calling for civility. We should be very clear that the corporatists and the assholes they’re floating (AKA TeaPartiers) are killing our country. It’s time we started getting very explicit about that.

  9. rugger9 says:

    Well, the RW is a bunch of panty-waisted bullies, quick to stab but if anyone even looks at them cross-eyed they are all up in arms about “civility”. The thing is that they really believe it.

    So, since the corporate media will never let progressives gain traction, and since they own the vast majority of the so-called “public” airwaves messaging isn’t going to be as effective. We need the outlet and voice.

    Slightly OT, Herbert Block of the Washington Post put out a book in the mid-50s called “Here and Now”, a collection of his political cartoons. With minimal substitution, such as RW Wurlitzer Enemy Du Jour for Communists, it’s clear we haven’t progressed in the 55 years since.

  10. bmaz says:


    Watching a conservative Republican talking point shill whine about civility and threats is fucking side splittingly hilarious. Irony writ large.

  11. Cregan says:


    You misunderstood. I was not whining. I was just making the point that calls for civility from liberals ought to be ignored as they never intended to do such themselves.

    It has been this weird puppet show on all sides.

    As noted above, I like EW’s answer on it because it is a real answer.

    We ought to just drop all this stuff, have at it, get it out of our systems after it, too, fails, and then get down to solving the situation. But, until we just go to it and get it over with, nothing constructive is going to happen.

  12. Kathryn in MA says:

    here’s a great comparison of Repub and Dem
    Just a taste =
    Republicans fear that the government has too much control over corporations. Democrats fear that corporations have too much control over our government.
    Democrats believe it benefits all of us to help the weakest and the poorest among us. Republicans believe it benefits all of us to help the wealthiest and most powerful among us.
    Republicans believe large corporations will always do what is best for the American people if the government stays out of the way. Democrats believe large corporations would disembowel you and sell your organs to the highest bidder if the government didn’t stop them.
    Democrats believe everyone is entitled to health care regardless of their ability to pay. Republicans believe everyone is entitled to jack squat if they can’t pay for health care.

    the list continues….

  13. Cregan says:

    @Kathryn in MA:

    You might try the idea of benefiting both. Seems quite novel.

    As we learned in our community, the better both people and businesses do, the more taxes that can be collected and the more services that can be provided. The worse people and businesses do, the less there is for services.

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